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Four Reasons Young Americans Should Burn Their Student Loan Papers


Four Reasons Young Americans Should Burn Their Student Loan Papers

Paul Buchheit

'Hell No, We Won't Go' — 1967
'No Way, We Won't Pay' — 2015

Fifty years ago students burned their draft cards to protest an immoral war against the people of Vietnam. Today it's a different kind of war, immoral in another way, waged against young Americans of approximately the same age, and threatening them in a manner that endangers not their lives but their livelihoods.


Excellent points. Succinct article.


Having worked in the “public” higher “education” (read training) sector for a quarter of a century, I feel qualified to add my $0.02-worth. The whole shebang, public, private, and hybrid has been corporatized. Check out any student union at a major university and you will likely find a “food” court. That’s right. Just like at the mall. Disciplines that don’t produce research revenues are destroyed at will. Civilization is collapsing before our very eyes. Investment in intangibles has been replaced with cynical ploys to out-patent the next institution. The commons has largely been divided and conquered by the monied interests. Thank dog I’m out of that game.


The public is taught to believe that they have to be ‘honorable’ and pay their debts. Meanwhile, though, the same institutions preaching honor and honesty are busily devising usurious schemes to rip off the public at ever increasing rates and speed. We are reaching the point of crisis. it will be interesting to see how it will play out.


Great article. The difficulty of course, is to convince a significant portion of student loan holders to burn their student loan papers to help take the heat off those that do.

Some of the parents, myself included, have had to bail out our sons and daughters at great cost. Its not just the student’s problem or their parents problem. When the oligarchy eats our young, its society’s problem.

The oligarchy doesn’t have to stay up nights or dirty their hands by thinking up ways to bilk the public. They consider themselves better and virtuous free marketeers. Financial wizards on their payroll do their dirty work 24/7 and politicians do their bidding.

To beat them, the public needs to know who they all are, where they are, what they do and how they do it. The public needs to shame them and their operatives, to make them directly responsible by taking away their privacy as they have taken away everyone else’s.


A few years ago when this issue first started to gain traction, or at least when I first became aware of it, my then 7 year old son said,“not repaying your loans is not fair to the people that repaid theor loans”.

I agree, there are issues with higher education financing, but to “forgive” the loans of those who jumped into excessive loans without the forethought of how they would pay them back penalizes those who sacrificed and planned for their future.


Not good logic. Allowing criminals to profit off of youth is the greater evil by far. You don’t keep giving criminals what they want.


I was recently turned down from a mortgage application due to some late payments on my exuberant graduate school loans. The mortgage banker referred to my payment track record (please note, a few late payments, not going into default) as being similar to terrorism. He worked for a large well known bank. When is this financial bullying going to end? It is time to rise up to the debtors and demand a better education infrastructure for our next generation. I am afraid that by the time I get to repay my loans, there will be no savings for my child’s college fund (and he is only one year old). WE MUST DEMAND CHANGES! WE MUST!


There was a lot of thought about how those loans would be paid back. Because of their education the student was going to get a better paying job in a growing economy. That was what every college recruiter said, every career planner said, and every parent knew to be true because it had been true for a generations. They turned out just as bad the mortgage industries ratings agencies, home appraisers and loan officers. Those kids and parents who work for a living were scammed by a financial industry determined to corrupt Gov’t and remake the laws for personal gain and the rest of us be damned. The odds are that if you did not use loans to go to college you were a beneficiary of that corruption though being a “good investor” or directly complicit. There is not a loan in the country to any international bank that should be repaid. This goes for credit cards, mortgages, car loans etc.


Sociopaths are shame-less. And to counter all the bad press, these oligarchs hire massive PR firms to whitewash or green-wash their actions, policies, intentions, products, motives… you name it!


Did you catch the statistic that shows that these pseudo-colleges use a high percentage OF public monies to operate. THAT is the greater crime along with seducing optimistic kids into thinking if they just get that piece of paper, a job is waiting. It’s ALL a hoax.


Great article. My sentiments exactly about the food courts. When I was an undergraduate at UC San Diego in the late 80’s they rammed one through. Many students did not want it. Public universities in California have been totally corporatized, with three Starbucks on one Cal State campus in San Luis Obispo, two Subways…
Everyone should dump their loans now. Let the entire wretched thing go down. It is a mall.


As a former graduate student with a great deal of student loan debt, I, like many other grad school students, taught classes at the university. We taught 80 - 100 students which was often more students than many of the full-time faculty. And we were paid at best 1/5 of their annual salary. So while we were incurring large amounts of debt, the university was saving a ton of money. And since there was no consideration of our schedules, I was frequently taking morning, afternoon, and evening classes as well as teaching classes that were often spread throughout the day. There was no way that any of us could have held down a full-time job and gone to school. And those teaching positions were highly coveted and necessary if one wanted to seek employment in the academic environment upon graduation. We were trapped.


So what can we do? Wont they just take our tax checks or garnish our wages? I have a very large balance from attending Ashford University. I agree that it is wrong, but tearing up papers wont make my balance decline or go away.


Wise Owl…totally agree good time to be a senior citizen…thanking dog for that too!


I disagree. This is very similar to the argument that homeowners should be “forgiven” for their loans on unprofitable real estate purchases. When a person borrows money and spends the money, they owe the money , regardless of whether they benefitted from the way in which they spent the money. In the case of real estate, many people borrowed large amounts of money to buy houses that they assumed we’re going to appreciate and generate large profits. This is called speculation. It is a risk. There was never a guarantee that their investment would be profitable. And had it been profitable, these investors would certainly not be sharing there profits with people who couldn’t afford to buy a house, who rented a house instead. So why, now that the risk didn’t pay off, should US taxpayers bail out these real estate spectators. After all debt forgiveness is funded by US tax dollars.
Similarly, when someone borrows money to go to college, they are taking a risk. If the risk pays off, the money borrowed to pay for an education will result in greater earning power and the risk will have paid off . If they pursued qualifications that weren’t marketable by the time they entered the marketplace, then they risked poorly and will not benefit. If their risk had paid off , and they secured high paying jobs, would they be sharing their earnings with people who chose not to borrow, or who worked at night to pay for school? I don’t think so. When they default on their loans, they make the loans riskier for the banks, and make it more difficult for future borrowers. The money was spent . The money is owed . If it isn’t paid back, the borrower should be held accountable. Otherwise, we would be allowing and encouraging people to borrow money without any obligation to pay it back if they spent/ risked the money poorly. And then no one would be able to borrow money.


Corporations are like vampires they suck the life out, don’t die, and end up owning everything!


No, what we have here is grand looting on the part of the looting class. If the people who are being looted wake up and resist, that is to their credit.

Maybe you have an explanation for the utterly stupendous skyrocketing of the cost of higher education? When i was at community college in the '80s full-load tuition was $250 per quarter. i could work my way through school.

When i was at university in the '90s and '00s, i told the student activists who were fighting the annual more-than-inflation tuition hikes to step back and look at the long-term trend: Higher education was being privatized, taken out of the hands of the state (whose natural interest is an educated and informed citizenry) and placed into the hands of profiteers (whose natural interest is looting), and it was this intentional process that was driving the annual jack in tuition.

Why does it require a hundred thousand dollar loan to attend school for four years? What miracles allowed past generations to NOT borrow this much for the privilege to attend a university? This is privatization, profiteering, looting. i certainly agree that the generations who bought into the steadily more outrageous scam should have been smarter about recognizing the outrageous scam, but the looters and scammers are the ones who need to be held to account to rectify the situation, not the victims of the scam.

Do you have the ability to see that this system was structured - intentionally - by interested parties - whose object was to generate massive profits off the intentionally structured system? There’s nothing “natural” about the market price of education, and there is NOTHING JUST about the trillion-dollar debt that has been engineered by the looters.

Not to even go into the intentional structuring of the mortgage derivative scams, and the looters who profiteer off those trillion-dollar debts…

Debt strike!


We need to organize together, not just to write off the outrageous debts scammed by the looting class, but to disempower the looting class generally, so that we do not face these intentional scams in every marketplace. There is NO just reason for there being a trillion dollars of education debt, and there is NO GOOD REASON to pay it off.

We need to recognize that hard times are here, and face the trouble that it will take to throw off the looters who turned university education into their private fountain of gold. We need to take care of each other and restructure the economy WITHOUT a looting class.

And if individual action is only painful and fruitless, we never know which small action will spark a larger organized flowering of effective resistance. Debt strike!


To Fraserdon: Spoken like a good little debt slave. The fact is that civilized people do not cannibalize their children even if they can. In the same way, they don’t cannibalize their elderly or their sick (mental or physical). Education is a benefit to all as is social support for the elderly sick or infirm. We don’t live in a civilized society. We live in the most bloodthirsty society in the world where everything becomes a commodity for making a profit from. I am older now, but when I went to school, all the way through an Ivy League Phd, I never paid a penny. I was given scholarships. I hope that in my work, I gave back to society for its investment. The reason for student debt, aside from the cynical drive by banks to squeeze money out of every sector for profit, is to burden students with so much debt that they no longer have time to protest like the students of the sixties. Debt is a tool for political control and so long as people like you urge the canard that repayment is a divine obligation, the lenders and looters will be smirking at their success.